Strange Way of Life, the sizzling gay western starring Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke, has premiered at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival.
Following the screening on Wednesday, out director Pedro Almodóvar and Hawke went onstage to discuss the 31-minute short film and answer questions from the audience.
Almodóvar, now 73, is best known for his Spanish-language movies — many of which, like Pain and Glory, feature queer themes and characters. Almodóvar, who turned down the chance to direct the 2005 gay classic Brokeback Mountain, said his short was inspired by a question in that film: "What would two men do, working on a ranch?”
If Strange Way of Life is Almodóvar's answer to Brokeback Mountain, it is a more traditional Western than the latter, complete with a sheriff pursuing an outlaw and a violent standoff between two gunslingers. But its queer subject matter is no less groundbreaking.
"I wanted to make a classic western in which we talk about the desire between two cowboys," the director shared. "Normally in classic westerns, women always have secondary roles and we never talk about the desire between two men. That’s what I wanted to do."
Per Deadline, Almodóvar answered yes when asked if he considers Strange Way of Life to be the first "truly queer western," citing the film's openness about gay desire and its emphasis on domestic details.
“I think it’s the first time in the history of a western where you see two men making the bed,” he said of the film's "morning after" scene.
“It’s a very important scene," he added, "because for the character of Jake (Hawke), making the bed is a way to erase what happened the night before, while for Silva (Pascal), it’s the opposite. Throughout the scene, he talks about what happened in the bed.”
According to early reviews, the film includes another scene where Silva borrows a pair of Jake's underwear, which he later tears and repurposes as a bandage.
Also during the Q&A, Hawke recalled his initial excitement upon being tapped for the short. “When I received the script and invitation to participate, I went for a walk and thought something I’d done in my life must have been right to get this email. I was so grateful," he reflected.
"A lot of contemporary Westerns feel like they’re imitating old movies and to get the chance to work with Almodóvar, everything he has ever done in his life, has an original voice with the camera, an original story to tell," he continued. "All of his stories are so deeply human."
Check out the official trailer for Strange Way of Life below.
STRANGE WAY OF LIFE | Official Trailer (2023)www.youtube.com